The man who brought New Zealand to international screens says the highlight has been watching the Kiwi film industry grow over the years.
Producer John Barnett is proud to be named a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit on the New Year Honours list for 2020.
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The part he's played in the development of the New Zealand film industry is legendary.
"What's been interesting is the progression of the whole industry," he says.
"It used to be that there wasn't a huge appetite from New Zealanders for local content, whether that's film, literature, theatre, art."
For Barnett, film is a way of saying who we are - of proving that New Zealand content is as good as that produced overseas, if not better.
"These projects have come to represent New Zealand. Everything that I look at, I'm thinking about whether it's a story for which there is an audience. People remember what they saw and listened to."
Barnett knows these films and shows continue to have a place in people's imaginations and memories.
"That does make you feel good."
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He's produced some of New Zealand's most famous feature films over the past 45 years, including Sione's Wedding and the internationally acclaimed Whale Rider. He can't pick a favourite, though - he compares them to children.
"You love them all – each one has something to say at a certain point in time."
"Everything has been enjoyable. Whale Rider is still the most successful New Zealand film internationally, it says something to the world."
And the impact of Shortland Street is undeniable, he admits.
Barnett became managing director of South Pacific Pictures in 1993, leading a management buyout of the company in 1998 and becoming co-owner of New Zealand's biggest film and TV production company.
He ran South Pacific Pictures for 23 years, overseeing production of the hugely successful shows Outrageous Fortune and Shortland Street, among others, and producing content that represented New Zealand's Māori, Pacific and Asian populations.
Barnett is back being an independent producer these days, helping other production companies with finance and mentoring younger companies.
He's also involved in charities and hopes to see some more of his work hit screens within the next 12 to 18 months. As he says, he's "got to stay busy".
He's quick to thank others for their part in his honour.
"An honour like this is terrific but a lot of people have been involved along the way.
"It's been a great ride and it's not over yet."